The Royal Navy of Great Britain and its Empire is one of the two great forces in the game. It enjoys a great superiority in numbers and strategic location, but suffers some disadvantages in technology and general quality.
After humble beginnings with temporary fleets the Middle Ages, a permanent British naval force was finally instituted in the late 17th century. Since that time, the Royal Navy rose to the dominating force on the worlds oceans, keeping Great Britains colonial empire together around the globe. From the days of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain has ruled the waves without facing any serious competition. Since the wooden sailing ship fleets became obsolete overnight with the rise of the armoured steamship, the Royal Navy has invested a great deal of thought and work to employ cutting-edge technology on the seas, especially since the dawn of Navalism, in which every competing imperial power strove for a great fleet as well. The most dangerous rival has now arisen in the form of the German Imperial Navy, which has only limited strategic capabilities, but nevertheless poses a deadly threat to Great Britain and the Empire. All Royal Navy ships bear the pretext H.M.S., standing for His/Her Majesty's Ship.
When war broke out, the Royal Navy quickly seized control of the oceans and successfully blockaded the entrances to the North Sea to German merchant shipping. Despite serious troubles with German cruisers in the first few months of the conflicts, the organized enemy naval surface powers have been driven from the oceans, and the passage of goods and troops across the oceans was mostly unmolested. This changed, however, with the first unrestricted German submarine campaign and the emergence of the German auxiliary cruisers, which require the presence of strong Royal Navy forces away from the North Sea.
Apart from the fateful defeat at Coronel, the Royal Navy has been victorious in every fleet action against the German navy. Nevertheless, the Hochseeflotte remains a serious threat, and it takes just one unlucky battle to lose the naval superiority - which is why caution is advised, even if the British superiority is substantial.
Technology and strategy Edit
The ships of the Royal Navy enjoy some advantages over those of the German adversaries. For one, they are usually faster and have a greater range, since the British ships are supposed to patrol the oceans and not just the North Sea. Also, they generally carry heavier weaponry with a greater calibre. This pattern is true for most ships except the most recent German dreadnoughts and battlecruisers, and especially the older German small cruisers usually carry inferior weaponry.
The British surface forces in the waters close to home are mainly organized in four great forces: the Grand Fleet with its base at Scapa Flow contains most of the dreadnoughts, while the Battlecruiser Fleet at Rosyth has most of the battlecruisers. The 3rd Battle Squadron in the Nore mostly has pre-dreadnoughts and armoured cruisers, while the Harwich Force and the Dover Patrol are mainly composed of Light Cruisers and destroyers, with the addition of a few monitors.
As it was the case in the conflicts of the past 150 years with powers on the continent, the Royal Navy has adopted a peripheral strategy which relies heavily on the domination of the seas. The enemy is to be surrounded and brought down over time by the sheer pressure of many fronts and, of course, the lack of any imports from the seas, as the oceans are no longer open for his merchant ships. Unfortunately, this strategy has not yet shown any substantial success, and in fact, the enemy has adopted it to some extent. With the aid of the new submarine weapon, the Germans and Austrians have inflicted serious losses to British shipping and thus tried to blockade Britain, and although the public outcry in the United States has forced them to drop the unrestricted submarine war, submarines remain a great threat and could go back to unrestricted warfare at any time. Besides, the Germans have managed to blockade Russia even with their limited strategic power, as this great British ally only has great ports on the Baltic and the Black Sea, both of which are closed to British shipping by German forces. So far, British attempts to lift this blockade have been unsuccessful, and after the great defeat at Gallipoli, the planned amphibious operation against the Baltic has been cancelled.
Known weaknesses Edit
As strong as the Royal Navy is, it nevertheless has a few weak spots. Being so big a force, it often has to count on quantity instead of quality, and the many ships are mostly not as ingeniously constructed as their German counterparts. For the same reasons, the crews are often not as big and well trained, and therefore damage control, targeting accuracy and ammunition handling are not as efficient as on the German side. At the same time, the British ships suffer from a few technological disadvantages. British armour-piercing shells tend to shatter on impact rather than penetrate the armour first, and their propellant charges can also be dangerous, as they may cause violent explosions when poorly handled or incinerated by fire. On some British ships, especially the battlecruisers, the armour protection has shown serious weaknesses - the battlecruisers were supposed to hunt down smaller ships or shoot at enemy capital ships from a distance, but are not really designed for battle with a heavily armed opponent being in a position to strike back. At the Battle of Dogger Bank, the battlecruiser Lion was almost lost due to a turret explosion, but since the battle was considered victorious, no one saw a reason to comment on the vulnerabilities of the battlecruisers. A further disadvantage are the less effective central control systems and range finders which are inferior to the German systems, giving the ships of the Royal Navy a lower targeting accuracy. Thus the British superiority in the North Sea is, although without any doubt a fact, not absolute and somewhat fragile.